Friday, April 30, 2010

Hawaii Hasn't Gotten It Right

Even if this new "gay marriage" law actually gets signed by the governor, it still doesn't mean anything. Why are people so afraid of them, that we feel that we have the ability to deny them the right to a happy marriage. We just call it a "civil union", so we don't have to feel like we've pissed god off. Here's the thing, a "civil union" means jack squat.

These people want marriage. They want to be the same as everyone else, to have the same rights and opportunity as everyone else. I want them to have these things. I don't want them to just have civil unions, I want everything for them! Total and utter equality is what these people deserve; they're the modern equivalent of the civil rights movement.

This brings up an important point: the government does not have the right to regulate marriage.

The Tenth Amendment delegates all powers that are either not given to the federal government or not prohibited for the states go to the states or the people. By this fact, marriage must go to the states, because it is not given to the federal government and the states are not prohibited. But, does the state have any say in it, even though constitutionally it can?

Of course it doesn't. The government doesn't have a right to license and regulate marriage. They don't have a right to say who can and can't get married, and they don't have a right to dispense benefits based on personal relationships. There's a key word: personal relationships. A partnership like marriage is to be regulated on the PERSONAL LEVEL, not the state or city level.

Equality cannot be granted through legislation. Equality must be relinquished unto us. Privatize marriage, end the government control over your personal life, and let everyone have the opportunity to be happy.

Otherwise, fuck you.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Constitution and Our Rights

The constitution is not for us. It was never meant for us.

This sounds scary, but its really not. I mean, first off, why do we even have a constitution? Is it to protect our rights?

No, its not. The constitution does not exist for us. The constitution is not a declaration of our rights.

On the subject of rights, it can't be said that a single document is the key to every one of our liberties, for our liberties are not decided for us, but by us. No document is higher than the individual, including the constitution. We see this in a lot of ways, as we can question it, challenge it, and amend it. Does that not place us above the constitution?

So, the first big question: who determines our rights?

There are several reasons the constitution cannot effectively determine our rights. Slavery was a legal institution for hundreds of years, and was legal under the constitution for a long time. Does that make it right? Does that not deny the rights to a group of people? If the constitution was meant to protect those liberties, why didn't it then? Because the constitution has no say in our rights. Ultimately, we know what happened to the slaves. The constitution was questioned, challenged, and amended by we the people. We are above the constitution.

How about voting rights, womens rights, civil liberties, our rights to speech and the press, everything else. Did those rights not exist before the constitution? Even under the King those rights still existed, even though they weren't recognized.

So, why is there a certain number of rights? What the hell do we need a Bill of Rights for?

A lot of countries have "bills of rights", but none of them have the same number of freedoms outlined. Do we have different rights than the English or the French? What about the Swedes? The answer is no, we don't, because as we have already discovered no document can determine our rights.

So, now to answer the first big question: who determines our rights?

Is it god? Are they god-given rights? If that is so, why did god give a different set of rights to the French and the English? By that matter we can toss out that answer.

We also know they aren't granted to us by any sort of government or document, so we can toss that out too.

The only thing left is us. We are the determiners of our rights, and only we can declare them. Simple as that.

On to the second big question: why do we have a constitution?

I've already told you that the constitution is not for us. So, who is it for?

It's obvious that anarchy couldn't work, so we had to have some form of government for our new nation. Those 40 people who drafted the document that would become our constitution had one primary fear: a strong, overbearing government.

There is our answer. The constitution is not meant for us, but rather for the government itself. The constitution does not declare any rights, but rather ensures that the government remains limited and restricts it to certain practices. That's it. It's not for us, it's not for our rights, it's to make sure that the government is restricted and limited.

Let's prove it. First we'll look at the first amendment.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Look at the language here. It does not say "all people have these rights", or anything like that. It exists to restrict the government from making any sort of legislation that denies these rights (that are determined by us).

If you look all over the constitution, you'll find language like that. Nowhere does the constitution outline any rights, it only restricts the government from violating them. The only way to interpret the constitution is to do so by understanding the meaning of it at the time of ratification, and it is to be understood that the constitution was meant as a safeguard to protect us from the government.

If only our elected officials knew this.

The Relationship Between Christianity and Islam

After doing a lot of thinking, I've come up with a hypothesis of sorts. What if Christianity and Islam are on the same development path? What I mean is that Christianity and Islam are so closely related, that I believe their societies have evolved along a similar pattern. Here's why I think that.

Christianity is roughly 600 years older than Islam. Christ died somewhere around the year 33 AD, and Mohammed in 632 AD. So, in that sense, Christianity is 600 years "more advanced" (I mean that lightly, of course) than Islam.

Islam right now is in a very violent state. It discriminates against women, condemns blasphemers, and reacts violently to change. It's no wonder that many of the middle eastern states are theocracies, ruled entirely by their Ayatollah's and the like.

But, may I ask, what was Christianity like 600 years ago?

The Christians of the 15th century were much different than the ones we see today. They were violent, condemned blasphemers, discriminated against women, etc. See a correlation?

My theory is that because Islam is 600 years younger than Christianity, it is simply 600 years behind in the development. Islam is now just as violent and wacko as Christianity was 600 years ago. This is demonstrated, as I said, by the similarities between the cultures in their respective times. Islam had a period of mass expansion, so did Christianity. Christianity is (relatively speaking) peaceful at the moment, and that may just be that Christianity has had 600 years of a headstart.

The problem with Islam may not be that it is naturally a violent religion. It is just as peaceful as Christianity (or at least, as peaceful as it was intended). The issue here is that Islam is at a point in its development where it is getting extremely fundamentalist (like 15th century Christians). Those violent interpretations of the holy books are something that is shared by both religions, and we interpret that to mean that Islam is violent and dangerous as a whole.

I wish this comparison worked with all religions, but I don't think it would. Societies are too different to compare, say, the Hindus and the Buddhists. That is all.

Why There Can Be No Moral Certitude

“You silly atheist, you have no God and therefore no morals. Why don’t you go grab a joint and kill some babies you liberal.”

I made that up entirely, if you didn’t notice. But it’s not entirely atypical of a conclusion a lot of religious people come to when discussing morality and atheism. They seem to associate a religion with morality, claiming that one is dependent on the other. So, by default, I must have no morals because I have no god to guide me or some shit like that. And you know what, it’s whatever. These people can think what they want about people like me. I have a great sense of morality, and the things that I consider right or wrong may not be so far off from theirs. But remember, the key thing is that I don’t have a religion, and that makes me immoral no matter what.

“Yes, but Atheism is a religion.”

Wait, what the hell? I thought we just went over that. Atheism isn’t a religion and so I can’t possibly have any morals, remember? So, now what, does it go something like “I’m an atheist, so I can’t have any morals because I don’t have a god, but I’m religious”. That just seems like a ridiculous piece of logic to me. Now, I might talk myself in a circle here, but I don’t mind since I don’t think it waters down my point considerably. There are religious atheists in the world, and guess what, there isn’t any contradiction. Here’s why.

Atheism is not a religion; it is a position in a debate. As the saying goes, “If atheism is a religion, then not playing baseball is a sport”. Atheism says only one thing about the nature of the world: that there is no god. Anything further than that is no longer atheism, but rather some sort of hybrid (like some Buddhists, which don’t necessarily believe in a god). Atheism’s polar opposite is not religion, but rather it is the belief in god. That’s all. It makes no statements on morality, the origin of life, or even what happens when you die. It just means no god.

So, I’m going to throw something else out there. If atheism is not a religion, but rather a position on the topic of god, then its opposite must not be a religion either. It only seems logical, and it is 100% true. Theism is not a religion; it is quite simply the belief in god. Agnosticism is also not a religion, but rather a position in a debate. It is the position that the existence of gods is either unknown or unknowable.

You can be a religious atheist and a non-religious theist and not be considered a walking contradiction. This distinction needs to be made in order to continue.

So, what is a religion? To put it simply, religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a supernatural agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs (thank you Wikipedia). Let’s make some comparisons. Does Christianity measure up?
  • Set of beliefs present? Yes, Christianity encompasses many different individual beliefs.
  • Do these beliefs concern the nature of the universe? Yes (but the argument could be made that a lot of the statements that make any claims regarding the universe come from Judaism).
  • Creation by a supernatural agency? I would say being three people at once and being able to make people from dirt and a rib is definitely supernatural.
  • Devotional and ritual observances? Isn’t Lent coming soon?
  • Moral Code? Yes sir, let’s talk me some Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount!
So, as you can see, Christianity is most definitely a religion as it meets all of the requirements of a religion. How does atheism hold up?
  • Set of beliefs? No, there is only one: that there is no god. It is not a set and there are not multiple beliefs associated as is required to really be a religion.
  • Do these beliefs concern the nature of the universe? Eh, err, ummm, yes it does. More or less, the conclusions that one would come to about the nature of the universe may be derived from atheism, but there’s no guarantee or certainty.
  • Creation by a supernatural agency? Nope, once again, no god.
  • Devotional and ritual observances? Nope.
  • Moral Code? Nope, there isn’t a moral code associated with atheism.
As you can see, atheism doesn’t stand up to the standards of religion. It is not a religion, and only makes one claim about the world. How about theism?

  • Set of beliefs? Nope, once again, there is only one. That a god or divine being exists.
  • Do these beliefs concern the nature of the universe? Once again, it’s a yes and no. That decision is made on the personal level.
  • Creation by a supernatural agency? Yes.
  • Devotional and ritual observances? No, not in its purest form.
  • Moral Code? No, there is no moral code associated with theism itself. Arabs and Christians are both theists, but have entirely different moral systems, for example.

The thing I want to point out is the fact that there is a difference between atheism and religion, and even theism and religion. It is therefore illogical to associate the lack of religion or god with immorality, seeing as atheism/theism simply doesn’t make a statement about morality: only about the existence or absence of god.

Man, so I guess religious people win in this case. Coming back to this, I guess I don’t have a set moral code, and therefore I have no morals. This is where I really wanted to go with this; most of this was just warm up. So, I’m going to toss out a single notion for you to ponder.

There is no such thing as a universal moral.

Damn, that was pretty intense. I felt it all the way from here when you read that. Just kidding, but seriously I did.

Here’s one of the main reasons why there can’t be universal morals: there is no such thing as a duplicate situation. There is no situation that will duplicate itself in its entirety to the point where making the same exact moral decision will have the same exact outcome. Even similar situations may have different circumstances about them. People could be in different moods, location could be different, weather conditions may even play a part (I suppose). Nevertheless, a slight change in circumstance can lead to an entirely new decision to have to be made. Is it really logical to apply a universal moral to every situation, knowing what I just told you?

Abortion is most definitely something that most people consider a moral issue. We’ve got people on one side saying life is sacred and needs to be protected, and we’ve got another which wants to keep the rights with the woman. It really is a tough call, and there is no way to solve it. So, let’s change the debate like this.

Many times, the argument comes down to the notion of whether or not it is okay to abort a developing child. I mean, what is the answer to that really? How can anyone sit there face to face and say in all seriousness that it is okay to kill a baby. You can’t do it, and I would agree that it isn’t okay. But the question shouldn’t be whether or not it is okay, but rather whether or not it is necessary. There is no situation where killing a baby would be okay, but there may be a situation where it is necessary. What if you’ve been raped? What if you can’t feed or take care of it? What if it is going to be born with a debilitating brain disease and have no quality of life? What decision would you make there? Do you stick with a universal moral and say NO, NO ABORTION! Or, do you make that decision based on relativity and circumstantial morals instead. As I said before there is no situation exactly like another, and so each must be handled with a manner that is relative to the issue at hand.

I’ll quickly ask the same question about murder. Is it okay to kill someone? Of course it isn’t, but is it necessary to kill someone sometimes? It may be so, especially in cases of self defense or other life threatening situations.

How about robbery? If you needed to steal to survive it’s still not okay, but it becomes necessary for you to do so.

Do you see how applying a universal moral isn’t always the correct response? Morals are relative to the situation, and must be applied based on a good understanding of the consequences of those potential actions. The moral decision is not the right decision, or the holiest decision, but rather the best decision. When I look at situations, I make decisions based on outcome, not morality, and I think that gets confused with having “no morals”. It doesn’t mean that at all.

So, if there is no connection between religion and morality, and universal morals don’t exist, where do they come from?

Let’s set up a situation. Say a train car is barreling down the tracks, out of control, and is going to crash into something explosive. All of those on board will die, but you are in a unique position: you are standing in front of a lever. This lever will divert the train onto a different track, taking it onto a siding and stopping it. The problem is that there is another person on that siding. Diverting the train car would kill that person, but save those on the train. Is it moral to throw the switch?

Most would agree that it is moral to kill one to save the many, but I doubt that any of them could give me an explanation as to why they think that is moral? It ends up being a circular discussion, with each answer being “because it is” or “because it’s right”.

The simple reason for this is that morals are not thrust upon us. Atheists and theists, as well as the religious and non-religious will probably agree that the best decision was to throw the switch. So, that being said, how can belief in god or in a religion possibly be the source of our morals, if we both arrived at the same conclusion? If there are no universal morals, as discussed earlier, where did this decision come from?

The answer is essentially instinct, instincts that are chosen by natural selection throughout our history. You can’t tell me why you would throw the switch, only that it is right. The reason you can’t explain this is because it is instinct! How about attraction for another person? You can say you love them, and that you find them attractive, pretty, nice, etc. But what causes that? You couldn’t tell me that because it’s instinct; it’s something that exists internally.

There are no universal morals, but there are instincts that will guide us to similar “moral” decisions. But, those instincts merely influence us – they are not infallible.

I really want to conclude this now, so, I’m going to. Morality is not derived from any ultimate source. It is determined over time, by people making decisions that they believe to be the best. When they are wrong, the rest of us know that they are. It’s a sort of natural selection for morals. We decide every day what the moral decision must be made to solve whatever problem faces us. Sometimes that decision may seem wrong, like aborting a baby or killing someone, but the question isn’t whether or not they are okay but whether or not they are necessary.

I respect those that live based on a moral code, I really do. I respect those who believe that there are certain things that are universally moral and that those things will make them better people. What I ask of you is that, what happens when a situation arises where the only logical solution may be something that would be considered “immoral”? Where do people with universal morals draw the line between what is best and what is moral? When do those morals cease to be universal and instead become something different entirely? What happens when those beliefs have to become relative?

The Crucifixion

The story of the Crucifixion of Jesus is probably one of the most powerful tales in the Bible. In fact, it could be said that the Crucifixion is the most important story in all of Christianity. It gave them a Hero, one who gave his life so they may have salvation in another life. That’s pretty much standard dogma right there.

Jesus was flogged by Roman soldiers, nailed to the cross, and upon his death was buried in a tomb. That’s the gist of it anyways, but something about this story doesn’t make sense. It’s not that it couldn’t have happened, quite the contrary. Almost all cultures crucified people in some way, and it definitely predates the Roman Empire. They did it in Japan up until the 17th century for Christ’s sake (Haha)! To really delve into this topic, we need to learn more about this form of capital punishment itself.

The victims of crucifixion usually fell into three categories: slaves, pirates, and enemies of the state. It was a shameful and disgraceful way to die, and like many other forms of capital punishment (like burning at the stake) it was a way to send a message to a large number of people at once. Its goal was to mutilate and dishonor the body of the criminal, as well as to showcase the criminal’s low social status. Usually Roman nobles were exempt from crucifixion, for that very reason.

Most often, the criminals were beaten (flogged) before they were put up onto the cross. In fact, the process was so common that it’s no wonder Jesus was beaten on the way to his death. The fact that this is often brought up as a selling point for the concept of Jesus’ sacrifice is ludicrous, as it was done to all criminals. One of the most important things we have to remember here is that what happened to Jesus was not out of the ordinary.

The flogging was mostly just for shock value, being public, but it also had a physiological effect. It was used to bring the convict close to shock, so that he may die faster. After the person was beaten, he was forced to carry the crossbeam to the site of his crucifixion. Criminals were not made to carry the whole cross. Generally speaking, the tall beam was already in place, and only required that the crossbeam be added. The purpose of the carrying was to humiliate the beaten criminal.

Once the crossbeam was in place, the criminal was hung to the structure. Nails are often written about, but there is little archeological evidence to support this. This is due to the fact, I believe, to the symbolic importance of being nailed as opposed to being tied. Nevertheless, whether he was tied to the cross or nailed, the criminal was made to stay there until his death. He would always be nude, despite most depictions of victims having a loin cloth. A painful repercussion of this was that if the person had to use the restroom that was too bad, he had to do it in public.

Death usually came about by suffocation, depriving the body of the necessary oxygen that it needed. The lack of blood usually came from wounds that didn’t heal.

As soon as the person was dead, his body was left to hang for all to see. Vultures would eventually eat it, leaving very little behind. The Romans forbade burial, and so would leave the body up until it was gone. By the way, when I say forbade, I mean it.

So, that’s how crucifixion went down. Quite the process just to get rid of a lowly criminal, but it served its purpose. So, how does any of this involve Mr. Jesus?

The myths concerning his crucifixion do not line up perfectly with Roman practice. First off, it was very common for criminals to be beaten on the way. This is not something that the Romans did to Jesus because they really feared him; it was just how it went down. Secondly, there is little evidence to support the notion that people were nailed to crosses. It is most likely that Jesus would have been tied to the cross with rope and left to die. Lastly, the Romans did not bury crucifixion victims; they left them to rot on the beams. They would not, and I repeat, would not have allowed Jesus to have been buried in a tomb, or allowed anyone to take him to a tomb. The Romans would have treated him like any other criminal and left him there.

Some of the stories about the crucifixion from outside sources (other than the bible) come from the Jewish writer Titus Flavius Josephus (Yosef Ben Matiyahu in Hebrew). He mentioned nails, but once again there is very little evidence in the archaeological record to support this. Josephus is also used by apologists to prove the existence of the Christ, but I have not seen a secular scholar confirm the historicity of anything Josephus said. That fact ties in to my nail problem.

So you see, the story of Jesus’ crucifixion do not line up with what was common Roman practice in the Empire. This, to me, is just another one of the ways that the story behind Jesus himself is just that, a story.

More Sex Abuse

The Boy Scouts were just ordered to pay $18.5 million dollars to Kerry Lewis, a man who was sexually abused by a scoutmaster in the early 80's. What is it with all of these religious people and abusing little boys? I mean, first it was the catholics, and now it's Boy Scouts? What the fuck man!

What's more ironic is how the Boy Scouts of America won't let homosexuals join the scouts (or atheists, for that matter). So, listen up BSA, it seems you've been infiltrated! Haha.

This is just further proof of how religion does the exact OPPOSITE of everything it tries to stand for. War, bigotry, oppression . . . touching little boys. So much comes from religion that it makes me wonder how it is people can still be a part of that kind of institution. I know I can't.

As for the Boy Scouts. I wouldn't let my kids join them if my life depended on it.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I've Said It Before

And I will say it again. Government regulation is the reason we have illegal immigrants.

I am SICK and TIRED of ignorant dumbasses (conservatives) saying that the government needs to crackdown on illegals and keep them out of the country, without even realizing that it is the government itself that has created the problem in the first place! They bitch and moan about how illegals and mexicans are taking their jobs, and then expect the GOD DAMN GOVERNMENT to be able to fix their problems. They are the problem!

The American worker is, studies have shown, getting older and smarter. The low-level labor jobs that used to be filled by American workers are no longer needed by them. They are moving into better, higher paying jobs that usually require education and experience. You know who is filling those jobs that we've left (like construction and other blue-collar jobs)? IMMIGRANTS! Without them, we'd have a serious economic problem!

But, the god damn government and these conservative - and some liberal - assholes keep passing laws that RESTRICT immigration. In order to fill those jobs that the average American worker is leaving, people - mostly hispanics - have to become "illegal immigrants" because the government has made it damn near impossible to get here in the first place! By restricting it, you have not reduced the amount of illegals, you've actually introduced illegality to it!

But they still don't fucking get it. They preach limited government, and then when it actually comes down to it, they want to make it bigger. As a libertarian, let me be the first to tell you: limited government does not only apply to the economy, it applies to society AS A WHOLE! A free market requires a free supply of labor. Otherwise, you could have severe shortages or surpluses of labor. Labor, like any good or service, is governed by the laws of supply and demand. By restricting labor, the government has fucked too much with the system.

Get it through your heads. Immigrants have every right to live and work here, just as much as we do.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Google and the Government

Just take a look at this bullshit. Google has posted numbers telling us how much data is being asked for by the governments of the world. In this case, my beef isn't with Google - they actually did a good thing with this - but the god damn governments.

Who do they think they are requesting all this data from private sources. In 2009, the US government requested information about 3580 people, and asked to have 123 items removed from their site. That's just the US government. If you think that is bad, take a look at Brazil. They've had 291 removal requests and 3663 data requests.

The government has been forcing Google to reveal information about its users and censor blogs, youtube accounts, and even Gmail accounts. This is ridiculous - who gave them this right?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Funny Thing About Freedom

I've been thinking a lot today, as I often do when I'm tired and not paying attention to what's ACTUALLY happening, about immigration. Why is it that some people are so afraid of immigrants? What gives people this idea that freedom only applies to us, the legal American citizens? Because it most certainly doesn't matter whether you are legal or illegal.

Those immigrants that cross the border have as much right to freedom as any other person in the world. The ability to seek opportunity and ensure your own prosperity is a natural right, one that is not determined by citizenship but by existence. There is no difference, on a human level, between me, you, and that man who just crossed over so that he could make money for his famiy. That man, like any of us, is just trying to make his life better. What's so evil about this?

Then you get these nutjobs, both liberal and conservative, who feel that the border is not tight enough and that we need to do shit like build fences and send in the national guard. How could the answer to this situation be anything close to that? These immigrants are people like us just trying to survive. America is the one place in the world that gives them the freedom to do so and you want to do what? Arrest them, or deport them as if they are bad people? These immigrants have as much right to the freedom of opportunity that we do, and it is high time we realize that and stop treating them as invaders.

It's a funny thing about freedom: it doesn't end at the border.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

One Nation Under Jupiter?

Christianity is one of the largest and most widespread religions in the world. It spans every continent, and nearly every country and society in the world, but how did it get that way? Was it because people saw that Christianity was the one true religion, and that the Jewish God was the true god?

I highly doubt that.

A lot of people like to point to the fact that a majority of people in the world are Christian. This, for some reason, validates their belief in Christianity and makes its doctrine fact. They’ll point it out whenever you talk about it too, because for some reason there is this common belief that the truth is democratic. It’s a delusion. An obscure one, yes, but a delusion nonetheless. There are a few major factors that really led to the ubiquity of Christianity in the world, but there is one reason that stands above them all:

The Romans.

Emperor Constantine, watching his empire being torn apart by warring Christian and Pagan factions, made a critical move in the year 333 CE. He converted to Christianity, thereby making it the religion of the Empire. It wasn’t long after that the Council of Nicaea was held, wherein the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church* was drawn up, specific details about the divinity of the Christ were sorted out, and the books of the Bible (the ones that they wanted anyways) were brought together and combined. The Romans built churches all across the Empire (most of Europe), gave the church power, and forced their citizens to convert, usually under penalty.

It didn’t take long for the Romans to spread Christianity across Europe. In fact, it only took them a century to forget about Mars and Venus. Though, the founding of the church wasn't the most important part of the spreading of Christianity. The real important factor was what happened after the Empire fell in 476 CE.

With all of the political institutions of the Empire nullified, only one organization was left with any power: the Catholic Church. The “kingdoms” that were established by the Franks, Goths, and other Germanic tribes after the fall of the Empire had very little power. By that matter, the Church became the only real governing authority in the lands, even though their former empire was gone. No kingdom in Europe at that time was not subject to the rule of the church (except, maybe the Scandinavians. Vikings!).

This is the factor that really led to the dominance of Christianity. When the Roman Empire fell, the Church stepped in and filled that power void. Its power ranged from the individual people, to the rulers of the new kingdoms themselves.

This is also a good example of why we have the first amendment. It wasn’t long before Christian Europe went to war, and we all know what happened with the Crusades, the Inquisition, old imperialism, etc. All of those events that spread Christianity are the result of the filling of the power void left after the Roman Empire by the Catholic Church. It did not become widespread by the choice of the individuals.

This raises an interesting question. What if Constantine hadn’t converted and Rome stayed Pagan? Could we have been America, one nation under Jupiter?

* Catholic is derived from the Greek word that means “universal”, which is a reference to the fact that at the time the Church of Rome represented all Christians.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Atheism As the Default State

Do you believe that a UFO has ever landed here on Earth?

If you're a logical human being, your default answer should be no. Any question like that has to begin with the answer no. So, what brings your answer to yes?


If you were asked that same question, said no (like before), but were then provided with proof, it would be okay to say yes. You see, to arrive at the conclusion of yes you need to be able to quanitfy it. Otherwise, you're arriving at the conclusion on pure faith. You wouldn't just say "yes" because someone asked you a question, or told you so, would you?

Now, I want to ask you a different question. Do you believe in God?

As before, the default answer is NO. You need evidence to jump to the conclusion that God does exist. If you don't have any, than you are simply stuck at no. Jumping to yes, without evidence, is fallacious and in this case delusional. Now, don't think that I'm saying that atheism doesn't require evidence - of course it does. What I'm getting at is that the initial claim of "yes" requires immediate evidence, whereas evidence for the "no" comes afterword.

Now, evidence in this case does not necessarily have to be scientific. I think it does, but that is irrelevant. Some people believe that nature itself is evidence for God, and this is an acceptable way for them to justify answering "yes" to that question. Some say the Bible is evidence, and some claim to even have had personal experiences relating to God. Okay, that's fine, your position has been justified with "evidence". Whether or not the evidence is legitimate is a different story.

So, in short, Atheism is the default answer to the question of the existence of God. Not because it's the truth or that it is a better response, but because "no" is the default answer to a debatable question.

Whenever you do a proper debate, the side that is always for something is the one who must provide the evidence (they usually present their case first too). This is called having the "burden of proof", and is very important when approaching philosophical discussions. Just to get my point across, here is a tiny simulation. Group T represents the theists, and group A the atheists.

"Do you believe in God?"

Group T: Yes
Group A: No

Group T, the theists, have the burden of proof so it is up to them to quantify their jump to the "yes" conclusion. Group A then makes statements in rebuttal, offers evidence, and the cycle continues.

The ultimate point that I am getting at is that I am an Atheist because there was never any evidence to move me to become a theist. This is why I see theism as a delusion, because the only evidence comes from things that are not quantifiable and cannot be tested. On the other hand, we know many of the natural processes that make the world work without invoking a god, so why do it in the first place?

Is Immigration Evil or Something?

So, this Monday, the Arizona Senate is going to vote on a new immigration bill that already passed the House (completely on party lines, I might add). This bill would make being in the country illegally a state crime, and require that state police enforce federal immigration laws, something that they couldn't do before.

This can't be good.

Essentially, Arizona police now have the right to pull over anyone they suspect of being here illegally and ask them to produce a proof of citizenship on the spot. If you can't? Guess what, your existence has become a class 1 misdemeanor.

Now, let's go ahead and look at the first problem with this bullshit regulation. Probable cause is necessary for the police to force anyone to show them any identification. They do not have the constitutional ability to randomly ask, based on their initial judgment of a person, for identification. They MUST have probable cause.

The SAME GOES FOR IMMIGRATION. You cannot randomly ask, based on nothing but pure instinct, a person to show identification. The government does not have this right, nor does the police!

But, what has the government gone and done? They've given more power to the police - including, more importantly, Sheriff Joe (douchebag) - that will allow them to profile and arrest not only illegal immigrants but those who employ them with or without knowledge of their status. This cannot possibly have been the idea of a smart, rational human being.

In fact, immigration restrictions as a whole could not have been thought up by rational human beings. In order for a free market to function properly, you must have a free flow of labor. Labor is an essential product, much like any other good or service, that should have limited restrictions because making it illegal causes more problems than it creates. America has, as one of its many virtues, an ever expanding job market. We, the average American worker (which studies have shown are growing older and smarter) are not filling those jobs. So, who's left to fill them? I can tell you now that it's not the legal, American workers. It's the immigrants who come here because of the increased opportunity from Mexico. Immigration restrictions make it harder for legal workers to get here, so they have to resort to being undocumented and immigrating illegally. Immigration restrictions have created the problem of illegal immigration.

There are 470,000 people living in Arizona, illegally, right at this moment. When large numbers of decent, hardworking people violate a law, why do we assume that it's the fault of the people? These people work hard to keep America running, yet all we do is fight them off at the border with fucking ugly fences and old, white, douchebag minutemen. At this point, when there are SO many violators of this law, the LAW HAS BECOME THE PROBLEM. Law works best when it revolves around the way people ACTUALLY structure their lives, not by attempting to reverse them.

This bill only makes it worse. You want to fix the immigration problem America? Let everyone who comes over get visas and work for their citizenship. Let the market decide how many workers it needs and doesn't need. Don't restrict the amount people that can get in, or force them to wait 10 years to get approved. These things only create illegal immigration, not stop it. People are always looking to America for jobs; putting up a fucking fence won't make them go away.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spread the Word to . . . Keep Saying It!

Language is one of the most important inventions of humanity. It helped us truly separate ourselves from our ape ancestors, and is the medium that allows for religion, philosophy, mathematics, and science: things that have not only accelerated our intellectual evolution but helped us unlock the secrets of the universe.

There are tons of words that some people find offensive, like nigger. Fuck, some people are offended by things that aren't even slurs, like profanity! And they have every right to be offended! If you don't like it, get away from it! It is pointless to run campaigns to try to limit the language of others: you can't do it.

This is what Best Buddies is doing. They are running programs across the country to ban the word retarded. This is retarded.

The word retarded is simply that: a word. It means to delay, to make slow, or to hinder/impede. Mental retardation, which is where the slur comes from, means that the person's mental processes have been retarded: slowed. Why should I stop using the word, when it is pretty clear that it is a medical term?

In modern society, the word retarded is used as slang for stupid. It's history is based on the medical condition, yes, but that is not how it is used or meant. When I say that Glenn Beck is retarded I mean he is stupid, not that he belongs in the Special Olympics (although, that's debatable). The word is offensive because the meaning is IMPLIED. When you hear the word retard, no matter what the context, you IMPLY that is to be taken offensively. This is why I have no predispositions towards profanity. The word fuck started out as a slang term for sex. It's meaning has evolved, over time, but ultimately this is what it means. So, when I say fuck, it's not meant to be offensive: it is IMPLIED to be offensive.The word retard may be offensive to some people, but you have to understand that this is not the intended meaning.

Best Buddies has every right to campaign for ending the word, I don't disagree with that. I disagree with the principle. If you don't like the words, stay away from it, or focus on not being offended by it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Social Insecurity

Social Security was established in 1935 as a part of President Roosevelt's "New Deal" program. With it's passage came the promise of a secure financial future for America's retired workers. It promised them respite from the financial hardships associated with reaching old age and being disabled.

And thus America was saved by Social Security - the promise of a better retirement for all Americans.

Yeah, more like Social INsecurity.

Every American is entitled to a retirement, there's no doubt about it. There are many people who simply can't work when they get to be older, and need that income in order to survive. So, isn't it the governments job to provide that? Is a public system the best system?

Not only are public systems inefficient but they cheat us, taxpayers, out of huge chunks of our paychecks and ultimately do not provide the money necessary for people to truly live out their golden years.

Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system, wherein the taxpayers pay the tax and then it is used to pay the retirees. Any left over tax is reinvested in government bonds, which is then matured until the next year and then brought back into the social security fund. The system used to work, back when the ratio of workers to retirees was about 16:1 (circa 1950). Now, the ratio is closer to 3:1, and is ever closing in on 2:1. This system is not sustainable, it will not have the funds necessary to keep paying out benefits. Inversely proportional to the ratio of workers to retirees is the the SS tax rate, which used to be 2% back when that ratio was sustainable. Now it's 12.4%, and it is very likely that it will increase again sometime soon.

SS is doomed to fail. It has always been on a downward spiral when it comes to benefits and taxes. Soon, the SS will not take in enough taxes to pay those in the system. You know what's going to happen? Higher taxes: someone is going to have to cover those losses. Of course, poor people don't pay taxes, so the middle class will have to bear most of that weight (which, if you aren't retarded, is most of us). Now, you may say that the rich pay the most in taxes, but I say nay. The maximum taxable amount for SS is $62,700. Nothing over that has the SS tax applied to it. Rich people won't even feel the sting, nor will the poor, but the largest class of Americans will.

In reality, SS also doesn't actually pay out much in benefits. All in all, if you made an average earning while you worked (about $50,000), you will get roughly 1300 a month in benefits. Great, hope you don't have a fucking mortgage. Oh, and God forbid you want to eat. 1300 a month is not a whole lot for many people to live off of (Though, for some it's WAY too much. The government is real good about "waste management", catch my sarcasm?).

What is the solution to the problem of Social Security? Privatization.

Galveston County, Texas (which I normally can't stand), is an excellent case study. In 1979, county workers saw that the SS system was not sustainable and thus set out to fix it. What did they come up with?

A banking model, rather than an investment model. You see, normally with an investment model of retirement funding (like a 401K) fluctuates with the market, and clouds the future for many workers.

A banking model using IRA's, however, are not subject to the fluctuations of the market. Worker's contributions in Galveston County were put into a conservative, fixed-rate annuity, with impressive results: a steady 6.5% annual return over the last 30 years.

So, under this system, that same person who made 50,000 dollars a year will not make $1,300 a month, but rather $6,843. That's about 3 times the payout of the SS system. The best part about this system? You can opt out, you don't have to use it.

That's the biggest problem I think with SS: it gives us no choice. Whether or not I use it when I retire doesn't mean jack shit when I get paid. I should have the freedom to opt out of the public system and move my 12.4% into a private IRA. I can make more money, decide how much I save, and have a better retirement.

Social Security is not a bad idea, it just doesn't work; it is not sustainable. I can earn more monthly, and have the freedom to save whatever I want for my retirement if I was allowed to invest that 12.4% on my own.

The government should be focusing on letting its citizens opt out of the tax and let them invest in IRAs. Can anyone give me a rational reason for not doing this?

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Case for Monopolies

Let's go back a bit through American history to the time known as the "Gilded age", which began roughly at the end of Reconstruction (1877) and ended with the Progressive Reform Era (~1900). It was at this time that the American economy industrialized, as the free market ruled and allowed the liberty necessary to encourage such innovation. It was also at this time that America experienced an unprecedented growth, not only with respect to the past American economy, but also with respect to the rest of the worlds. We managed to become almost as economically powerful as much of Europe, and our products began to become known worldwide.

The Gilded Age brought out some of the most famous industrialists, like John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and Cornelius Vanderbilt, who all built massive companies that were really the backbone of the capitalist era. Rockefeller created an oil company called Standard Oil, and he quickly became one of the richest men to ever live in America. Carnegie produced steel, and the Carnegie name became world renowned and universally associated with steel. Vanderbilt built railroads, which provided much of the foundation on which the American industries could stand on.

The Gilded Age also gave birth to the one thing which the American's had for the most part avoided: monopolies. These industrialists were ruthless. In order to limit competition, they would force other companies to sell or gradually take over their territory. Sometimes, they even blatantly defrauded the other companies out of money or power. This led them to be known as "robber barons". Ironically, these men were also some of the most famous and biggest philanthropists in history.

The idea that a single company could force their way into a monopoly scared not only the citizens but the federal government, so in response they passed the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act. This gave the federal government the ability to investigate and pursue trusts in order to limit cartels and monopolies. How did they do this? They broke the companies up. Standard Oil was split into dozens of separate entities, of which two still exist. The American Tobacco Company was broken down into several other major tobacco producers, and the Northern Securities Company (which owned railroads) was completely dissolved.

The Act is still used today to justify government investigations into monopolies. A good example is Microsoft, who was constantly being investigated for violating antitrust law in the 1990's. Other prominent cases include suits against Wal-Mart, 21st Century, Google, Oracle, and many others.

There are even some regulated monopolies, that is, monopolies that are legally allowed to be exist. They include the MLB, NFL, NHL, and GameStop. Those four companies dominate their respective markets (GameStop for used games), but came about not by imperialist business practices, but by out-competing everyone.

With all of this knowledge, we have come to an important question: should monopolies be allowed to exist freely? The answer is a resounding yes, and this is why.

Let's understand that it is not the monopoly the government has a problem with. It's the monopoly that is gained through illicit means, such as the forcing of other companies out of competition. This is why monopolies like the NFL are regulated, not dissolved.

So, in a free market, it takes an extraordinary amount of work to create and support a monopoly. In order to be in that position, you have to be able to out-compete every other business in that industry, by providing a better product at a lower cost. Now, of course, it doesn't always happen this way, so we need two rules. The two fundamental rules of capitalism: that one group may not engage in force or fraud against another. These two rules, if enforced PROPERLY, fix most of the problems associated with monopolies. How, you may ask?

These two rules get rid of the unnatural ways to acquire a monopoly. Removing the ability to force companies into submission or defraud them out of business means that the only thing any company can do is try to out-compete the competition. It must sell a better product at a lower price, or if the monopoly already exists, it has to continue selling a better product at a lower price. This is how a natural monopoly forms, and they work well. Does anyone worry about the NFL blocking competition? No, they gained the monopoly naturally, and so do have no incentive to subvert the market.

So, how does the government enforce those rules? Through regulation and restriction? Hell nah. The two rules exist to level the playing field. They would exist as laws that don't block the market, but rather gives a company legal ground to sue a potential aggressor: one who may be initiating force or fraud against the company. The only government intervention here is a judge saying, "yes, you initiated force, he wins", and then the aggressor has to pay reparations. They'll learn. The key is that the repercussion of violating those two rules is not regulation, but payment.

But, don't monopolies limit competition? Even if they exist naturally, don't they still block others from getting into that market? Of course they do, that's the definition of a monopoly.

The real issue here, is that is the competition necessary? If we apply the two rules and assume the monopoly formed naturally, out of competition, then they are already offering the best product at the lowest price. What need is there to have price lowering competition when a business has already achieved the maximum efficiency (through competition)? It sounds like it limits opportunity, but it really doesn't; the market will adapt.

What about pricing? Why wouldn't a company who has a total monopoly jack up prices to maximize profits, knowing that the market doesn't have a choice? Because they can't.

Raising prices opens the door to competition. If the product starts to become too expensive, then competitors (which would be mostly startups) now have room to actually compete. If the monopoly tries to force that new company out? They've just violated one of the two rules, and they can be sued.

Monopolies are not bad. In fact, a natural monopoly is the peak of capitalist achievement. If we abide by the two fundamental rules of capitalism, then unnatural, "bad", monopolies would be MUCH harder to come by. They can function in a capitalist system, and they can do it well without disrupting it or causing problems.

No matter how strong a company gets, the MARKET is always the one in control. This is the beauty of capitalism.

Friday, April 9, 2010

End the Intolerance

A little while back, a student at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Mississippi named Constance McMillen went through what I would call one of the worst instances of intolerance that I have ever seen. What happened? Constance had asked to go to her senior prom with her female date. Yes, Constance is a lesbian, and all she wanted was to take her girlfriend. Instead of saying yes (which is the correct answer), what did the school do?

They cancelled the senior prom. For everyone.

Apparently, one girl being a lesbian and wanting to take her female date quantifies the cancellation of one of High Schools biggest traditions. How can you possibly be so bigoted that you would cancel the entire prom just because of one student's sexual orientation?

It wasn't over, though. Constance worked with the American Civil Liberties Union and successfully sued the school for violating her personal rights. Unfortunately, it didn't go much beyond that. The judge did not force the school to hold a prom; he was satisfied with the fact that the school promised that she would be welcome at the private prom that was to be held.

So, Constance attended a private dance that was billed as the school's prom. The only problem was - it wasn't. The "event" was attended by Constance, her date, and five other students, two of which had learning disabilities. The "event" was a decoy. Virtually all of the other students went to a parent sponsored prom, which of course Constance wasn't invited to.

So, there you have it - America the free. Unless you're gay or a lesbian. Then it's America, the kind of free, but only if you're a straight white male Protestant. I don't literally mean it that way, but you catch my drift. This is a public school that humiliated her like this, a PUBLIC SCHOOL. Despite my predispositions towards public schools, the fact that they are public means that they have to provide equal opportunity for EVERY student, which is why I approve of the Student Non-Discrimination Act. This act would be the first of its kind on the federal level, and bars public schools from discriminating based on gender or orientation.

If you agree that Constance had her rights violated, sign the ACLU's petition.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Ten Myths of Evolution Refuted, Part 10

As I sit down in my chair to write the final destruction of AiG's idiocy, the first thing that comes to my mind is how something like AiG could have arisen. In such an enlightened age, why is it that science, which has already shown such tangible benefits to humanity, become an enemy? To be like AiG, and take the bible literally, you have to reject nearly every branch of science SIMULTANEOUSLY.

Scientists do not make this stuff up. It's observable, testable, verifiable, makes predictions, and most importantly, is falsifiable. It is an accurate documentation of reality and how it functions. It is not a conspiracy against any religion, and it is not an attempt to subjugate the parents; it is an attempt to understand the nature of our universe. To have any group of people simply deny the observable facts of nature is absolutely outrageous, and potentially dangerous.

The number of people in America that share this mindset is growing at an unnerving rate. It wouldn't be such a big deal if they weren't trying to get into politics and mix their religion with government. Think about it for a second: we are electing people to offices, including the god damn presidency, who believe the universe is less than 10,000 years old! They make laws for us, they decide some of our curriculum, and they ban stem cell research and want to make abortions illegal. Why do we let it happen!

This is why I feel it is my personal duty to point out the bullshit. The term "Atheist" is such a broad grouping, because it isn't a doctrine; it only makes one claim, that god, in any form, does note exist. We hold so many different religious and political beliefs, ranging from Buddhism to communism, that we have a very hard time uniting. This is why you don't see very many big atheist or agnostic lobbies, because you can't get us to agree on anything but God. I feel that if I don't point this shit out, even to the one person who reads this, then it is allowed to self-replicate and gain even more power.

So, we have come to the final myth of Evolution. The myth: that all scientists agree on evolution. This, according to us "evolutionists", proves our "worldview" correct.

This definitely deserves the top spot, because it is CLEARLY the most ridiculous claim I have ever heard.

First thing's first, it needs to be said that the belief of the majority does not PROVE anything. Having a lot of scientists who accept evolution does not prove evolution, and I don't believe anyone has ever made that claim (except maybe creationists).

It must also be said that the Theory of Evolution is not a matter of belief, just like any other science. It is a matter of acceptance, that is, you see the evidence that is proposed and accept the theory as an explanation for that phenomena. We do not BELIEVE that evolution is fact. We ACCEPT evolution as fact.

And where did this idea that only scientists who accept evolution are "real scientists" start? Probably with creationists, but that's besides the point.

No one that I am aware of regards only those who accept evolution as "real" scientists. This is ridiculous, because there are scientists at universities and in labs who don't accept evolution. There might even be some who aren't religious, but who knows. What needs to be understood is that most of the evidence for any theory comes from people who try to prove it wrong, and this is precisely what happend to evolution in the early stages of its development. There are some who still think it is wrong, that's okay. More power to them actually, because it takes some gall to reject a claim that is so heavily supported with evidence.

I would also, once again, like to revisit the idea that there is no such thing as an evolutionist. So, when AiG claims that, "The argument, then, essentially boils down to this: evolutionists agree that evolution happened. This, of course, is an absurd argument, and we could just as easily say that creationists agree that creation happened", you need to know that it is null and void from the start, because there is no such thing as an evolutionist. But if you want to play that game, then that quote is EXACTLY RIGHT. "Evolutionists" do agree that evolution happens, just as much as creationists agree that creation happened. Neither of those statements don't prove anything, but . . . oh what the hell, you get it.

For the rest of the article, AiG points out the same shit that I just pointed out: that a majority opinion does not act as proof of something. They also write that the history of science is filled with minority views being incorrect. I don't know what that second one meant because evolution is accepted by the majority, but whatever. This is better, at least they're thinking semi-rationally for once.

"Secondly, many scientists accept evolution because the only alternative is design, which is against their naturalistic beliefs."


Okay, really? The ONLY alternative is design? Are you god damn kidding me? No it isn't, this isn't some battle between naturalism and design. It's a battle between the natural and the supernatural (or rather, fucking reality versus something someone made up 3000 years ago). Scientists do not accept evolution because they don't want to believe in design, it's because evolution is WHAT THE EVIDENCE POINTS TO! There is no "prior committment to keeping any miraculous interaction out of their worldviews". God, I was getting my hopes up for no reason.

Apparently, according to AiG logic, there is also a growing number of scientists who reject evolution. Wow, if your bullshit meter didn't just go off, you need to see a specialist. In fact, the trend is exactly the OPPOSITE: more and more scientists and people are accepting evolution, because the evidence is so plentiful.

The proof of evolution comes not from majority opinion. It comes from the 150 years of solid evidence that supports it. In that 150 years, there has not been a single piece of reliable evidence (meaning, non-creationist) that has contradicted the theory of evolution. As Theodosius Dobzhansky said, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of Evolution".

We do not wish creationists to go away. Well, for the most part. We just want you to learn a bit about reality and get the fuck out of politics.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Ten Myths of Evolution Refuted, Part 9

"Natural selection is the driving force behind evolution. This mantra has been repeated so often that people often conflate the two ideas. But are evolution and natural selection the same thing?"

The answer is no, and it brings us to the 9th of Answers in Genesis' list of the ten myths of evolution: that natural selection is not evolution in action.

To put it simply, natural selection is only ONE of the driving forces behind evolution. There are also allele frequencies, genetic mutations, genetic drift, genetic variation, migration, descent, and coevolution, just to name a few.

Natural selection and evolution, though related, are not the same thing. Natural selection, as discussed before, is a mechanism of evolution. Evolution, on the other hand, is defined as the change in the allele frequency of a population over time (about 800 generations for most species). Natural selection is one of the mechanisms that governs the change in allele frequency. Heritable traits that help ensure the survival and reproduction of a population will be passed on, while those traits that don't help are killed with the organism. If people conflate the two ideas, and combine them into one, then they are simply being ignorant.

AiG doesn't like to associate anything with evolution (but, what did I expect), or Darwin for that matter. For example, they say that natural selection is an observable process that wasn't discovered by Darwin, and this somehow validates their argument.

Correct. Natural selection was not discovered by Charles Darwin, but rather proposed by him as a scientific theory in his book. Before Darwin, the idea that nature selects organisms for survival was simply philosophy, and had existed since antiquity. Darwin just connected descent with it.

AiG makes the point, later in the article, that "natural selection is nondirectional and does not lead anywhere. That is, if the environment changes, members of a species that were previously better adapted may no longer be. "

Once again, this is a correct statement. Nature is not sentient; it does not consciously determine who it wants to live or die. We often discuss nature as if it were actually doing so, but in reality it can't. The fact that natural selection is blind (much like Adam Smith's "invisible hand", referring to market economics) is one of the reasons why nature produces so many variations of species. It doesn't choose a specific species and allow only it to survive, it allows any organism that "meets the requirements" of survival in that environment to be favored. If an environment changes (an extremely long and drawn out process. At least, it was before humans), then the animals that have the traits which allow it to survive in that new environment will do so. This is not a conscious decision that is made by nature, it simply happens. Creationists don't like the idea of things just happening.

This is where the draw a distinction between natural selection and evolution: "Evolution, on the other hand, is an unobservable process that requires direction (dinosaurs to birds, e.g.)."

No, evolution (as defined above) is the result of random chance (mutations, etc) and non-random selection. It does not have a guide, only mechanisms that drive it forward. These mechanisms that drive evolution don't do so in any particular direction, therefore evolution as a whole does not have a direction. This is why it is such a slow process (it can take thousands of years for a speciation event to occur): because there is no goal, or no objective. Evolution did not start with the predisposition that dinosaurs changed to birds, that is just what was determined through study.

So, natural selection can only work on information that is already there, right? And when characteristics are selected for, doesn't that result in a loss of genetic information?

Yes and no. Once again, AiG is correct by saying that natural selection can only act on information that is already there. This is an obvious statement, because if there was nothing to select, then there would be no selection. But, to say that when characteristics are selected, the overall genetic information decreases, is just plain ignorant.

Let's take a population of, let's say, bears. For the sake of this argument, the bears have only 4 pieces of genetic information. Their DNA looks something like this, perhaps:


These bears are living in an arctic environment, so they are completely covered in hair. Over time, the arctic environment begins to change to a more temparate environment, so the hair isn't needed. One of the 4 pieces of genetic information governs body hair:

| (this one)

What would happen if a mutation occured, and that gene that governed body hair became modified, causing some bears to lose most of their hair.

Mutated bears (~1/8 of the population has this mutation):
\ (mutates to a slash, causes hair loss)

Regular bears the (rest of the population remains unchanged):
| (did not change)

In this case, the increase in temperature might cause the majority of the bear population to die out, leaving only the ones that mutated and lost hair (~1/8). That is what natural selection does, but notice: there was no loss of information, the information simply CHANGED. That is the biggest thing to remember about this. Unless the mutation specifically causes a deletion or duplication, there is no loss of genetic information. Now the bears who survived will reproduce, and eventually that population of bears will be completely different from the original ones. That is what we call evolution.

As a corollary to their previous point, AiG also claims that mutations have not been shown to reverse genetic information loss. In reality (which is the dimension that normal, intelligent people live in), some mutations can cause genetic information to increase via duplications. I won't go into the details as to how it happens, but you have to understand that genes can be duplicated during both mitosis and meiosis.

The final claim made by AiG regarding natural selection is that we, the "evolutionists", like to give powers to natural selection that it doesn't have.

To this I say: when did we ever do that?